The cement Garden
1978 Blackbirds 1993 147 pages 2 pts.
This book is a psychological novel. It's about four children who live in a large house, which is isolated from the outside world, because the house around it, are demolished for a new motorway. Their house is the only house with people. I think the story takes place in England, but it can be Ireland too. The book is called 'The cement garden' because the father of the children wants too cover the whole garden whit cement. Since he had a heart-attack he isn't able too work in the garden anymore. That's why he does that, he doesn't want too his garden covered with riffraff.
The book's about the emotional development of four children after their parents have died. They get isolated from the outside world and get much closer too each other. At one point they are so close , that they only see each other. They don't want to do anything with the outside world, because they have to do everything on their own.
The author deals with the action and the characters of the children. It's a brilliant mixture of these two things, because they get a little bit insane and do insane things. The main characters of the book are the four children; Julie (16), Jack (14), Sue(13) and Tom (6). Julie is the oldest and responsible for the management of the household, but she clearly cannot cope. She's very beautiful and gets enough attention of boys. Jack is the next one. He's just entering puberty. He's a little bit in love with his sister Julie. When he's masturbating he thinks of her. He doesn't want too clean himself up anymore, because he thinks he's a dirty boy anyway, because he often masturbates. He gets dirtier and dirtier.
The story is told from his perspective. Sue is his little sister, she is the most intelligent of them. She loves reading and she has kept a diary since her mother died. Then there's only Tom left. He's the youngest. At school he's being teased a lot, he wants to be a girl, because girls are not teased. When his mother died, he is the one who is the most upset. I like Sue and Jack the most. Jack is the you get the most involved with. I knew what he thought and why he did things. Sue is the sweetest one. I like Julie less, because she wants to be in charge and she's a bit bossy. She doesn't want to think of the feelings of her brother. But it is changing in the book, it's clear she loves her brothers and sisters.
While the father of the children is covering the garden with cement, he gets a second heart-attack. He dies. The children and their mother have to move on, but the mother is getting very ill. She lies in bed the whole day and the children have to deal with the household al by themselves. Jacks birthday has to be celebrated in mother's bedroom, because she can't get out. Three days after, she dies. The children decide not to let anyone know. It's not very difficult, because no-one ever visits them and they haven't got any neighbours. They put their mother in a big trunk into he basement which they fill up with the cement that was left. Then part two starts. There is told how they manage without their parents. They get much closer too each other, because of their big secret. Julie gets a boyfriend(Derek), who comes over a lot. He finds out there is a secret in the basement. The children tell him, it's their dog, they buried. Derek helps them to discover the crack in the cement, where a horrible smell is coming from.
One day, the bond between the children has become so strong, that Julie and Jack are having sexual intercourse. Derek catches them in the act and quickly disappears to warn the police. He has namely found the body of the mother. With this fact ended the book.
The climax of the book is obvious the end, when it's getting out of hand and Julie and Jack have sexual intercourse. I preferred the part of the book where their mother died and they buried her, it was a very well told. The story is told by a first-person narrator . It was the main character Jack. The story is built up in two parts, the part before their mother died and after she died. It's told chronologically.
There are a lot of dialogues, but most important was the social and emotional development of the children.
I really enjoyed reading the book, because it was a strange book, but the author didn't exaggerated. It was really interesting to follow the thoughts and acts of the children after their mother died. I borrowed the book from by boyfriend, but if I can buy it, I will. I think this book should be in the school library, because it's a piece of art. It's a original book and there is really is something told.
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